International women’s day is being celebrated at the Sukarya office complex with the women from nearby villages and slums • Courtesy of Sukarya USA

Yes, times have changed. And it’s all about women. Women have continued to speak up, run for office and take their seats at decision-making tables. From the historic number of women running for office this year to #MeToo and #TimesUp, there is huge momentum building, all centered around women.

At the same time, more than 300,000 women and 2.8 million children die worldwide every year, mostly for reasons that are preventable – such as malnutrition, having little or no access to healthcare, and anemia.

Having a baby is a beautiful, natural and joyful experience for many women. However, this reality can be extremely difficult and life threatening for women and children living in poor, remote and deprived regions. Infant mortality and maternal morbidity remain unresolved serious global issues. Even the U.S. struggles with this public health crisis; America has the worst infant and maternal mortality rates among all the developed nations. We must take action to prevent these unnecessary deaths.

“If I look across the villages and slums, there are thousands of mothers, children and families who aren’t getting a fair start in life,” Meera Satpathy, the founder of Sukarya said. “[This is] mostly due to not getting the access to basic health care. Simple things, like the investments that we’re proposing – teaching healthcare workers and midwives the importance of good hygiene, family planning, washing hands, sterilizing tools, nutritional cooking and access to lifesaving vaccines.”

Sukarya has been one of the very few non-governmental organizations in India fighting for maternal and children’s health as its core area of work since 1998. In the year 2017 alone, the Sukarya team helped more than 200,000 vulnerable women living in more than 69 villages and 15 slums through their projects under the Urban Slum Health Action, Rural Development, Empowerment of Protection of Girls living in the Slums programs.

In the last 20 years, Sukarya has affected more than 3.4 million lives across three northern Indian states by providing access to basic healthcare, nutrition and education, thereby preventing tens of thousands of avoidable deaths and improving maternal and children’s health at the same time.

There was a bipartisan effort in U.S. Congress – the proposed Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 – that called for ending all preventable childhood and maternal deaths across the world with new approaches and better coordination. A U.S. Senate version called for ending preventable childhood and maternal deaths by 2035; a U.S. House version called for doing so “within a generation.” The effort stalled, but it isn’t too late! Please contact your federal senators and representative and urge them to revive this bill.

You can also support Sukarya’s work through Sukarya USA. Inspired by Sukarya’s good works over the last two decades, like-minded volunteers formed Sukarya USA with the purpose of raising awareness, exchanging technical know-how, sharing best practices, and mobilizing resources for Sukarya’s work on the ground establishing the Center of Excellence for Social Change. Our common goal is also to replicate its success as a non-governmental organization and make an impact on the lives of mothers and children of India, the U.S., and anywhere in the world.

Coming in May, Sukarya USA is going to be one of the Community Partners for The United State of Women Summit (USOW) 2018 in Los Angeles. We will meet to coordinate this movement, working with organizations and individuals on the front lines of today’s most pressing maternal health issues, and equipping women with the tools and resources they need to channel their energy into action.

“The 2018 summit is a celebration of the women who have significantly impacted their communities,” says Satpathy. “It’s more than just a conference – it is a powerful gathering of leaders from across the world who are breaking down the barriers that hold women back.” If you are interested in joining us at the summit, please email [email protected].

Sukarya USA is a Seattle based non-profit with the purpose to raise awareness, exchange technical know-how, and mobilize resources for Sukarya’s charitable work in India.

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